Proposed bill would remove Confederate commemoration from Arkansas flag

Staff photo

UPDATE: This proposal failed in a state House committee on Feb. 27. The vote was 8-5 against. It needed 10 votes in favor to pass.

A proposed bill would change the language in state law that commemorates the Confederate States of America when describing the design of the Arkansas flag.

House Bill 1487, filed Friday by Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock), would not alter the design of the flag, but would change the designation of the single blue star above the word “Arkansas.”

The star currently represents the Confederacy, but the proposal would change the designation to honor the Native Americans who first occupied the area before the arrival of European explorers.

Specifically, the language commemorates “the heritage and contribution of the Quapaw, Osage, and Caddo tribes and other Native American nations who inhabited Arkansas before France or Spain exercised dominion over Arkansas.”

From the proposal:

The General Assembly finds that:
(1) Arkansas was once home to numerous thriving Native American tribes, including the Quapaw, the Osage, the Caddo, the Tunica and the Chickasaw;
(2) The name “Arkansas” is derived from the Native American word “Acansa”, a name that refers to the Quapaw Indians and means “southern place”;
(3) The forced migration of Native Americans along the Trail of Tears during the 1830s brought even more Native American tribes through Arkansas, such as the Cherokee, who established a large settlement along the Arkansas River near modern-day Russellville before being forced to move again, all the while suffering from disease, drought, and attacks both from other Native American tribes and neighboring settlers;
(4) The designation of the Menard-Hodges Site near Dumas, Arkansas, as a National Historic Landmark in 1989 as well as the designation of other sacred sites in Arkansas under President Clinton’s 1996 Executive Order 13007 has allowed the modern Caddo, Cherokee, Osage, Quapaw, and Tunica to reclaim their ancestral ties to Arkansas;
(5) Today, the Arkansas Archeological Survey maintains ten (10) research stations across the state that work to preserve the past of Arkansas’s original inhabitants; and
(6) Native American history and culture is an important part of the history of this state.

Other meanings of the Arkansas flag

– The diamond shape signifies that Arkansas is the only diamond-bearing state in the Union.

– The 25 white stars on the blue diamond band represent Arkansas as being the 25th state admitted to the Union.

– The three stars below the word “Arkansas” represent the nations of France, Spain and the United States, which have successively exercised dominion over Arkansas. They also represent Arkansas as being the third state carved out of the Louisiana Purchase.

– Of those three stars, the twin stars parallel with each other signify that Arkansas and Michigan are sister states having been admitted to the Union within just months of each other.